Showcasing cool science doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. Creating a fun booth that engages participants in the wonder of science, technology, engineering & mathematics can be easier than you may think. As you put together your exhibit or activity, have a look at the suggestions below to help guide you.
- Recruit enough volunteers to staff your booth in shifts, so that no one person gets burned out. Take breaks, visit the other exhibits, get food, or have some down-time away from the chaos of the Expo.
- Ensure volunteers overlap shifts so that they can share tips with one another. 2-3 people staffing the booth at any one time will help with explaining and crowd control. Matching outfits for your crew are highly encouraged! Or consider purchasing Atlanta Science Festival t-shirts ahead of time for your crew.
- Try to avoid too many handouts. Not only are we trying to be conscious of our planet’s resources and not waste paper, but too many materials can be overwhelming and distracting from the activities.
Know Your Audience
- Remember that one of the primary goals of the Atlanta Science Festival is to help make science relevant to everyone. Keep in mind how to make these connections. Use examples and activities from everyday life to help them see how science affects us all. Help the visitors to see how science impacts them.
- If you can, provide participants ways to learn more on their own – provide a QR code to a website to reference later or direct them to your organization’s website. How can they continue to learn more about your topic?
- Because we are expecting large numbers of attendees, keep your activities efficient – prepare for each activity to handle at least 3-5 participants at a time. To keep a steady stream of visitors moving throughout the park, your activity should last no more than 5 minutes.
- Don’t forget about parents! Engage them in your activity too or have staff available to talk to them while kids are exploring. This gives them the chance to go home and have conversations about what they learned.
- To welcome non-English speakers, try to find a presenter who speaks Spanish or another language and we will help advertise your activity as accessible to non-English speakers.
Grab Their Attention
- Think carefully about how you can get visitors engaged with your activity immediately.
- Allow them to make discoveries on their own. Let visitors touch, feel, explore, and play as you guide them through the science concepts that are being presented. This helps create the scaffold for a personal connection to the topic in your exhibit.
Keep Them Engaged
- Providing hands-on activities and face-to-face interactions are great ways to keep participants interested in your exhibit.
- Ask questions of all the visitors. What are they observing? Do they have any guesses on what they think will happen as they experiment? Let their curiosity drive your interactions.
- Tell kids and parents what it’s like to be a scientist! Help them to see that science is a great career path.
- Have an expert on hand at all times. Let visitors meet a real scientist or engineer!
Title: Prosthetics & Orthotics
Description: The Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics Program at Georgia Tech hosted a 10’x10’ booth with three different activities. The most popular activity was a guided opportunity to experience having a prosthesis. Participants tried on a pair of walking boots with prosthetic feet mounted on the bottom. As they stood up, the participant experienced the range motion and movement of a prosthetic limb.
Visual Hook: Walking boots, a variety of prosthetics and stimulators.
Take Home Message: Conveyed the science behind a common medical technology, while also showcasing the importance of engineering in the development of prosthetics and orthotics. Attendees tended to stay at this activity for a long time (5-10 minutes) which allowed for rich conversation between volunteers and the entire family.
Title: Exploring STEM Through Aviation
Description: Delta Air Lines hosted a 20’x20’ booth with a model engine, landing gear, wind tunnel, and other aviation items. One of the most popular activities was exploring one of the four forces of flight with a wind-tunnel constructed by Delta’s Technical Operations crew specifically for the Expo. The participants wer able to see how much weight a wing could lift. Pilots and technical crew were on site to greet visitors and share how they use STEM in their jobs.
Visual Hook: Model engine, landing gear, & wind tunnels. Pilots and technical crew in uniform.
Take Home Message: Showed how early interest in how things work and taking things apart can lead to careers in aviation and engineering.